Grandpa complained first thing this morning about the view out the kitchen window. He wasn’t happy that the neighbor threw his garbage pails and recycle bin haphazardly between his fence and garage. I guess it’s my fault he’s been subjected to such an eyesore.

About a month ago, I moved the kitchen table over by the window so Grandpa could look outdoors instead of just staring at his food or the four walls of the kitchen. But unfortunately, the view out the window is limited to the neighbor’s garage.

Years ago, the backyard used to be a lovely place – a respite in the midst of identical suburban tract homes that my Uncle Meyer built in the 1950’s. It was a small yard, but like everything else in my mother’s life, she packed as much variety as she possibly could into that tight space. As a child I loved that yard. It was an ever-colorful landscape that changed with the seasons.

There used to be a tall maple tree in the middle and a huge weeping willow next to it. We had a swimming pool and playhouse fort in the corner. There were bushes growing down each side of the fence and in the back there was a vegetable garden, assorted fruit trees and a pussy willow bush, my mother’s favorite. Beyond the yard is the grade school I attended and it’s much the same as it was when I was a child. There’s a big, open playground area, surrounded by fields and houses.

Looking out the back window used to be a delight, but not anymore.

As mom and dad aged, they decided they needed a garage more than the view, so dad took a carpentry class at the local junior college, and with my brothers help, they built a one-and-half car garage that practically took up the whole back yard. Grandpa’s very proud of his garage, but it is the only thing you see if you look straight out the kitchen window.

If you sit parallel to the window, you sort of get a better view depending on how diligent the neighbor is about keeping his property tidy. Unfortunately, from the chair he was sitting in, Grandpa’s view is limited to the neighbor’s garage and whatever he wants to throw out on garbage day.

“It’s a real mess,” Grandpa grumbled to Eric.

The neighbor (who shall remain anonymous), was in his garage putzing about.

Grandpa didn’t want to be seen, especially since he had been complaining, so he asked Eric to move him away from the window.

“You’re a snoop,” Eric scolded.

But Grandpa couldn’t hear him.

“You’re a S-N-O-O-P!’ Eric spelled loudly.

Then I arrived and saw Grandpa eating breakfast at the kitchen table, so I joined him.

It wasn’t long before I heard about his complaint, too.

I stood up and looked out the window at the fence line and agreed, it was an unsightly mess. Then I looked out the window in the other direction. I chuckled because I saw what Grandpa couldn’t see. Our own garbage pails and recycle bin looked just like the neighbor’s.

“You’ve got a log in your own eye,” I teased Grandpa. “Our yard looks just as unsightly as the neighbor’s.”

Grandpa looked surprised, and then he smiled.

There’s nothing like eating humble pie for breakfast.